“Am I crazy? Am I a worthless human being? Am I an awful person? These are some of the most frequent questions from victims of narcissistic relationships. Many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD affects a person’s memory, physical and emotional systems. Despite being physically removed from the relationship, there is often an experience of continuing to be controlled by the abuser. This response can elicit helplessness, depression (sometimes quite severe), and anxiety. Those that experienced abuse for lengthy periods of time can end up losing all sense of reality (derealization).

A narcissist can make you feel as if you cannot do anything right. You believe that if there is any chance of the relationship surviving, it is up to you to do the changing. You try everything- living each day trying to push the magic button to make the narcissist happy, although it never happens. If it does, it is short-lived.

One of the most important aspects of recovering from Narcissistic abuse is understanding its’ signs.

Here are TEN of the most common signs:

  1. You never feel “good enough.” Despite having many friends, accomplishments, and a solid career, you are constantly second-guessing if you are any good at all. You begin feeling like you’re a failure in almost anything you do.
  2. You begin to compromise your inner core and values. Despite your beliefs and values, you put them aside to show your partner how much they mean to you- hoping they see your love and commitment and return to the person you first met.
  1. You feel all alone in your relationship most of the time. Despite your partner’s presence in the home, you feel alone, exhausted – like running on empty.
  1. You continually find yourself in cycles of hurt and repair. The narcissist causes you lots of stress and pain and then comes to the rescue to relieve that pain.
  1. Your life is no longer your own– you live for your partner. The narcissist encourages you to detach from family and friends. You find yourself dressing, eating and generally changing to all the ways narcissist wishes you to be- forgetting who you are or once were. “Walking on eggshells “ is the best way to describe it. No matter what you do, you are in fear of upsetting the narcissist and paying dearly for the consequences.
  1. You feel as if you are going insane. The you that you once were has gone. You feel lost in a  sea of unknowns. Never knowing what is right or wrong. Days, weeks, months go by, and you become introverted – almost as a master and slave relationship.
  1. You feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.
  1. They humiliate you, put you down, or make fun of you in front of other people.
  1. They try to control the finances and how you spend money.
  1. They belittle your accomplishments, hopes, and dreams.

If  you feel you are a victim:

For those who have been in a relationship with a severe narcissist, it may be necessary to remove yourself from the relationship. Every state has assistance for victims of domestic violence.  The narcissist operates under a false persona, meaning many of your friends/neighbors and loved ones may only know the “false self” of the narcissist and question why you are leaving such an extraordinary being. It is about your well-being and safety. Look ahead and do not let others influence you. Many who stay end up with severe and sometimes tragic health consequences.

The ideal outcome is to experience yourself as a survivor instead of a victim by working with a therapist such as myself trained in understanding narcissistic abuse. A therapist who works in many therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is ideal. EMDR is one of the modalities with a large success rate in aiding recovery from narcissistic abuse.